Shisha smoking is fast becoming popular in Nigeria, especially among young people. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to see a nightclub where there are no shisha pots for shisha smokers to enjoy their favourite substance. You may wonder, is shisha legal in Nigeria? In this article, we’d answer your query and provide some additional information about shisha in Nigeria. Read on.
Is Shisha Legal In Nigeria?
Yes, shisha is legal in Nigeria. But as a tobacco product, there are some enacted tobacco control laws that impose some restrictions on the use, sale, and advertisement of shisha in Nigeria. Some of these restrictions include the prohibition of the sale of shisha to people under 18 years, as well as the prohibition of shisha smoking on public transport and in indoor public places and workplaces.
What is the Position of the Law on Shisha in Nigeria?
Although shisha smoking is not a crime in Nigeria, there are several laws put in place to regulate tobacco products like shisha in Nigeria. These tobacco control laws regulate the use, sale and production of shisha and other tobacco products in Nigeria. Below is the list of tobacco control laws in Nigeria:
- Tobacco Smoking (Control) Decree (No. 20) 1990
- Tobacco Smoking (Control) Act (1990, No. 20)
- A Law to Prohibit the Advertisement of Cigarette and Other Tobacco-Related Products (2002, No. 4)
- Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) 463:2008, Standard for Tobacco and Tobacco Products – Specifications for Cigarettes (2014)
- National Industrial Tobacco Control Act 2015
- Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) 463:2018, Standard for Tobacco and Tobacco Products – Specifications for Cigarettes 2018
- National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019
Aside from the enacted laws in Nigeria that regulate tobacco products in Nigeria, there is also the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which Nigeria became part of on January 18, 2006.
What are the Restrictions Tobacco Control Laws Have on Shisha in Nigeria?
The tobacco control laws in Nigeria impose certain restrictions on tobacco products like shisha in Nigeria. In this section of this piece, we’ll discuss the restrictions these laws place on shisha in Nigeria.
A major restriction imposed on shisha smoking (and other tobacco products) by the Tobacco Control Act of 2015 was the designation of smoke-free places. What this means is that there are designated areas where smoking tobacco products is not permitted. Smoking in such areas translates to committing an offence. Below are areas where smoking shisha are prohibited in Nigeria:
- Indoor public places
- Indoor workplaces
- Public transport
- Restaurants and bars (and wherever food and drink is served or consumed)
- Playgrounds, amusement parks and other public gatherings
- Bus stops, vehicle parks, seaports
Another area where tobacco control laws impose restrictions on shisha is on the sale of tobacco products like shisha to people under the age of 18. More so, the tobacco control laws in Nigeria also forbid tobacco products to be sold via the Internet.
Furthermore, there are restrictions on the advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products in Nigeria. According to the provisions of these tobacco control laws, retailers and manufacturers of shisha (and other tobacco products) are prohibited from promoting and advertising their products, unless the audience receiving such adverts or promotions are consenting adults.
Another way tobacco control laws in Nigeria regulate tobacco products such as shisha and cigarettes, is that there must be health warnings inscribed on the packaging of tobacco products. Every tobacco packaging is supposed to have a combined picture and text health warning that should occupy at least 50 per cent of its packaging. Although cigarette packaging complies with this guideline, shisha has several components that aren’t usually packaged which makes compliance hard.
What is Shisha and How does it Work?
The major component of shisha is tobacco (sometimes flavoured tobacco) which is usually mixed with fruit or molasses sugar. This specially prepared tobacco is then placed on a component of the hookah (the device used to smoke shisha) to be heated by burning wood, coal or charcoal. The heated tobacco then produces smoke which bubbles through a bowl of water and into a long hose-like mouthpiece to be inhaled by the smoker.
What are the Risks Associated with Shisha Smoking?
Shisha, just like cigarettes, often contains tobacco which means shisha smokers are at risk of developing similar health problems as cigarette smokers. More so, shisha usually contains nicotine which means smoking shisha could be as addictive as cigarette smoking. Tar, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead, are other harmful substances contained in shisha.
The mix of nicotine, tobacco, carbon monoxide and heavy metals combine to cause the walls of a shisha smoker’s arteries to become sticky. Fatty materials soon stick to the walls of the arteries which could make the arteries that carry blood to the heart get clogged, leading to a heart attack. When this happens in the arteries that carry blood to the brain, the occurrence of stroke is imminent.
Aside from heart attacks and strokes, shisha smoking could also lead to cancer, decreased fertility and respiratory infections and conditions. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization, a 60-minute shisha smoking session is equivalent to smoking 100 or more cigarettes.
How Does Shisha Smoking Compare to Cigarette Smoking?
Many shisha smokers may think that smoking shisha poses fewer health risks than cigarette smoking. They couldn’t be more wrong as shisha contains many of the harmful components present in cigarettes, such as tar, tar and heavy metals. More so, nicotine which is the addictive component in cigarettes is also present in shisha.
Furthermore, the high heat used to heat the tobacco placed in the hookah produces smoke as toxic as that of cigarettes. Carbon monoxide, for example. Shisha smokers are relatively exposed to more smoke than cigarette smokers. If a shisha smoker and a cigarette smoker both smoked for one hour straight, the shisha smoker would be exposed to more smoke, carbon monoxide and nicotine than the cigarette smoker. Ultimately, a shisha smoker and a cigarette smoker are exposed to similar health risks.